Suspense Story – Revealed

In this blog we will take a look at the “Suspense Story” of one of 0ld time radio’s greatest achievements, Suspense. The show was subtitled “radio’s outstanding theater of thrills” and it maintained that mission statement throughout its run. Suspense went through several major phases, characterized by different hosts, sponsors, and directors. Plot-lines, for the most part, followed a perfected formula. The hero is dropped into a hostile or bizarre situation and solutions were suspended until the last possible second.

Suspense Story - Sorry Wrong Number.
Agnus Moorehead performing on CBS Suspense (1943)

Its very first episode, recorded in July of 1940, was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It was part of the CBS summer series called Forecast. This series tested possible shows for public approval. Hitchcock decided on, The Lodger, to bring to the airwaves. This happened to be a favorite of both his and its star Herbert Marshall. Even with some hiccups it was well received by the pubic and Suspense would become its own series in 1942.

One of the programs earliest successes and its single most popular episode was Lucille Fletcher’s “Sorry, Wrong Number.” It was about a bedridden woman (Agnes Moorehead) who panics after overhearing a murder plot on a crossed telephone connection. You can listen to this episode on Ron’s Amazing Stories Episode #3 and then again in Episode #43. In the later Jim Harold joins the program to talk about his views on this amazing story.

The early years were rough for Suspense because it had no sponsors. Then in 1944 Roma Wines bought the show and kept it going through 1948.  After another brief period of sustained episodes, Autolite Spark Plugs would take over until 1954. The highest production standards and the use of famous film actors made sure that the ratings were maintained. The series expanded to television on CBS from 1949 to 1954, and again in 1962. The final broadcast of Suspense was on September 30, 1962 and is often cited as the end of the Golden Age of Radio. That episode was sponsored by Parliament cigarettes.

There you have a brief history of this OTR powerhouse. If you look through the episodes here at the RAS you will see that Suspense is one of our most used series. This is not an accident and I go on record that I am a true fan.

Thanks for reading,


This Week’s Podcast:

As you might guess from the blog this week that that Thursday’s podcast will have an episode of Suspense. What you may not predict is that it will be, that very first attempt by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940. Also, on the show there will be a dramatic reading of Gray Eagle and this Five Brothers. Should be a good one.

You can listen to this podcast this Thursday (1/07) at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen on your radio Friday night at 8pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.

The Calendar:

December 17, 2015 – Two Sharp Knifes (RAS225)
December 24, 2015 – Christmas break 2015
December 31, 2015 – Called to be a Soldier (RAS226)
January 07, 2016 – A story from Suspense (RAS227)
January 14, 2016 – Undertakings with Stanley Swan (RAS228)
January 21, 2016 – (RAS229)
January 28, 2016 – (RAS330)

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